Ok, so I need to make a little confession: no camping happened during the making of this hash.
This hash does however remind me of camping trips I took with my family as a child. Laying in the tent with my sleeping bag pulled tightly around me to fend off the springtime morning chill, I would hear my my parents clanking around with the cookstove on the picnic table that served as our kitchen. As the sunlight started to filter through the trees and warm the earth I would start to smell the pungent garlicky smell of freshly pulled wild ramps and the comforting aroma of corned beef hash and eggs. As a child camping ALWAYS meant corned beef hash right out of a can, but in the springtime, after a long cold night being bundled in the tent, that canned shapeless meat and potatoes product with a side of fried ramps was heaven to my little taste buds. Now I would never touch the stuff!!! But I do still miss the taste memories. Nostalgic for a simpler time I set out to create the same taste memories (and scent memories!) that the canned hash evoked in me; minus all the processed, industrialized, CAFO meat byproducts.
First step: find some ramps!
I went all the way back to Michigan for this first step. (Well, actually I went back to visit my mom on Mother’s Day, but lets just say it was for the ramps). My ramp foraging grounds have a limited range, and as I have not yet found some in Wisconsin I asked my friend Sasha to take me out in Kalamazoo.
For those of you who do not know what a ramp is, here is the wikipedia page for ramps. Basically they are a wild leek, that looks very little like a leek, and tastes more like a cross between garlic and onions. AND they are crazy delicious, made even more delicious by the limited time they are available and the amount of foraging used to find them. You can find them at some farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and food co-ops if you don’t want to put in the very satisfying hunting time. They like forest areas that have an abundance of trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit in my experience. Often you can find ramps and morels in the same area (cooked in a little butter the two make a heavenly pair). The number one rule of ramp foraging is to leave a lot behind so they can repopulate the area for next year. If you take them all, you will not have any in the future.
Second step: kill a pig and cook some hash
Well, you don’t have to do the killing yourself, but I would recommend that you at least get meat from a free-range local hog. The meat of choice in this hash recipe? BACON! The meat comes from Bardenhagen Farms, my dad is a friend of the owner’s daughter and the farm is right near his house in Leelanau County MI. My parents generously donated their bacon to this cause. Local bacon instead of canned meatish hash? Yes please!
This recipe is simple, bacon, ramps, potatoes, and an egg or two fried right in the middle. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and you have an epic one pan camping hash that screams Spring. Serves two, multiply for additional servings.
Same as listed above. Oh you want amounts? Okay.
4 slices of bacon
3 medium new potatoes (or as much as you want to eat)
a large handfull of ramps (around 10): cleaned and washed well
a pinch of salt and pepper
Fry the bacon, remove from pan and set aside to drain. Slice the potatoes and ramps. To slice the ramps, first trim off the roots. Slice the bottom white part thinly and use the bacon grease in the pan to fry the white part of the ramp and the potatoes. After a few minutes add the purple part of the ramps. Once the potatoes are nearly cooked through crumble the bacon and chop the green leaves of the ramps and toss them with the hash in the pan. Move the hash to the outside of the pan and crack 2 eggs in the middle to fry. Once the eggs are fried dust with salt and pepper and serve.
Third step: enjoy! (while camping, or while thinking of camping trips past)
I was rather stunned at how much this dish reminds me of the hash I had as a child. It is a grown up version, made from much better ingredients, but it still harkens back to the canned hash of yore. I suggest to ALL of you out there that you take this weekend off to go camping. Pick someplace you think may have ramps, grab a wild edibles guide book, seek out those ramps, and the next morning when you wake up bundled in your sleeping bag you will be dreaming of this hash. Happy hunting!